Teaching Phonics in the Classroom

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  • 0:04 What Is Phonics?
  • 1:07 Phonics as a Teaching Method
  • 2:02 Phonics & Phonological…
  • 2:43 Strategies & Activities
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

In this lesson, you will work toward being able to explain phonics as a teaching method, understanding the connection between phonics and phonological awareness, and understanding some activities and strategies to help with teaching phonics.

What Is Phonics?

Ms. Michaels is excited because after teaching fifth grade for more than a decade, she is moving to a first grade classroom. She has been wanting to work with younger children for a while, but she realizes that she is going to have to brush up on some of her knowledge about literacy instruction. One thing Ms. Michaels knows is that phonics, or the way letters and sounds work to make words in reading and writing, might play a bigger role in her instruction now.

She worked on phonics with her fifth graders, but her younger students are more likely to need phonics instruction as they are new to the world of decoding, or the aspect of reading that involves figuring out what words are on a page. They will also be new to encoding, or spelling out their words in their independent writing.

Ms. Michaels knows that phonics alone is not enough for the teaching of reading and writing, since they must be balanced with comprehension strategies and teaching that encourages the enjoyment of literacy in its many dimensions. Still, many students can never be effective readers and writers without first receiving a solid background in phonics, so Ms. Michaels is determined to refresh her memory in terms of just what phonics is.

Phonics as a Teaching Method

First, Ms. Michaels thinks through what it means to consider phonics as a teaching method. She knows that to be an effective teacher of phonics, she will need to devote a portion of her literacy block each day to the teaching of phonics. During this time, she will focus on letter identification and letter-sound coordination, or teaching students which letter makes what sound in writing. This also involves the teaching of idiosyncratic spelling patterns and phonetic rules. She will explicitly teach her students, for instance, what a silent 'e' at the end of a word does to the vowel sound in the middle of the word. She will instruct them on how to sound out blends and digraphs involving multiple consonants.

Phonics instruction is never meant to replace read-aloud and comprehension strategy instruction, but as a teaching method, phonics makes the fundamental assumption that many children become better readers when they are taught such rules explicitly, rather than assumed to absorb them gradually over time.

Phonics & Phonological Awareness

Ms. Michaels also remembers from her student teaching days that there is an important relationship between phonics and phonological awareness, or the developmental understanding of how sounds fit together within syllables and words. As a teacher, it is her job to help students hear and articulate different and related sounds.

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